State entities co-host coronavirus workshop

Two Government entities have co-hosted an awareness workshop on novela coronavirus for staff and interested members of the public.

The objective of the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) and the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.)-facilitated workshop at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel was to brief the public about the virus, its impact and measures put in place to protect the country.

Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital (T.T.M.) infection control officer, Joyce Levaai, gave a presentation at the workshop on how to maintain hygiene and the proper way to wash your hands to avoid infection.

And while there has been an increase in the sale of hand sanitisers in the country, Ms Levaai urged the public to check the contents of the product to ensure alcohol content is above 70 per cent, as anything less than that is unlikely to kill the germs.

MOH Assistant CEO (Health Protection and Enforcement), Mae’e Ualesi Silva, told the workshop participants that the virus not only affects health but can also impact the economy.

““The Coronavirus not only affects health but economic loss and revenue as results of tourism industry, the business sector and the food supply being affected,” she said. “Health is a priority. The CoVid-19 is a global issue affecting many countries around the world.”

Asked what actions will be taken if a suspected case reaches Samoa, she said the Government’s disaster plans will kick into action. 

“The National Management Disaster Plan will be implemented. National Health Legislation in Relation to Infectious Diseases, the International Health Regulation 2005 and related community emergency plans will be implemented.”

Mae’e also revealed how the Faleolo District Hospital, which the Government earmarked a quarantine site for suspected coronavirus cases, is currently working.

“Patients at Faleolo are provided with essential needs such as food, water and beds. The doctor on duty will continue to monitor the patients until they are due for 14 days to be released,” she added.

The key to addressing the risks associated with the spread of coronavirus is to ensure the public has access to critical information, which is why the S.T.A. communications officer Su’a Hesed Ieremia believes information is critical. 

“We do weekly programs to provide advice on television and radio. The key is information and communication. The virus was spread from animals to people and now its people to people. We are holding workshops about the coronavirus and we are working on demonstrating hygienic solutions,” he said. “Though we have travel restrictions, there’s also importance on how to eliminate any possible spread of the virus if it ever gets here. So we talked about preventing it and also solutions. There was also a reply from Health to cook food properly in order for the meals to be cooked well, especially eggs.”

Reigning Miss Samoa and Pacific Islands, Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland, said the virus is already having an impact on the tourism sector and the presentations done during the workshop are important for the public. 

“The coronavirus has affected the tourism sector, in a sense that we have now limited the flights that are coming in from overseas, so it obviously means less tourists being able to travel to Samoa,” she said. “Right now for the tourism sector, the priority is our country and our health. We are already trying to recover from the measles epidemic. The Ministry of Health has done a lot of educational programs including this one so my message to the public is to absorb all those messages and really tune in to what we can do to prevent it.”

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